Breaking Down and Betting the 2024 Kentucky Derby

FairwayJay chips-in coverage and picks for the 2024 Kentucky Derby with added insight and information you can bet on. Included is additional insight into the Sport of Kings and 'buyer-beware' signs when betting the ponies.

Kentucky Derby Betting Advice 

The 150th Kentucky Derby is just days away as the trainers get their horses ready for the Run for the Roses. The Kentucky Derby post draw and opening parimutuel odds are set, and the Derby favorite Fierceness (5/2) will break from the No. 17 post - the only post position that has never produced a Kentucky Derby winner. 

America's biggest horse race will once again get major media coverage as the single biggest horse racing event of the year. 

I'm not a horse player or serious horse handicapper in that I don't spend time studying the racing form, video replays or invest much time or money into betting the races. I love the horses, their beauty and enjoy the Sport of Kings, and I also attend the Breeders' Cup through my media connections. Since 2016, I've gone to and covered the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, Del Mar and last year at Santa Anita again. I plan on going to Del Mar again for the 2024 Breeders' Cup "Where the Turf Meets the Surf.", Nov. 1-2. 

I've been hired for years to cover horse racing, including since just before sports betting was legalized in the U.S. when I was working for Churchill Downs and writing about horse racing and providing betting insight, strategies racing information for TwinSpires. In recent years I provided horse racing coverage for FanDuel and their platform is now a part of the major media coverage for the Kentucky Derby with FanDuelTV and FanDuel Racing. I still rely on my sports betting background and understanding of value when wagering at the leading online sportsbooks to chip-in insight and information you can bet on for horse racing with the biggest Kentucky Derby championship series races in Forbes ahead of the 2024 Kentucky Derby. 

2024 Kentucky Derby predictions picks betting adviceBut understand I'm not a horseman, and frankly, I don't know how bettors can, or if they do, beat the sport of horse racing with it's huge takeouts and all of the controversy and corruption that has been involved for years in the sport. Trainer Bob Baffert had his suspension extended by Churchill Downs, so his best horse and a top 3-year-old Muth is not running in the Kentucky Derby but will likely be a favorite in the Preakness Stakes along with Fierceness if he wins the Kentucky Derby. 

I receive information from knowledgeable handicappers and horse insiders about not only horse racing and picks, but about trainers and their 'tactics' which impact horses performances and races.Baffert and other notable trainers have been and continue to be involved in drugging horses (EPO) and the doping scandal that sheds a black eye on the sport of horse racing. 

What is takeout and how does it affect betting profits?

Thus, if you're betting or 'investing' in the races, understand the variables involved and that you're best bet is to enjoy the races with just a bit of betting if you want to be entertained or shoot for a bigger score. That's what I did in 2022 when I hit a $5 win bet at 125/1 fixed odds to cash in $625 on Rich Strike and his incredible upset in the Kentucky Derby along with some other big racing days from years past.  Rich Strike drew into the 2022 Kentucky Derby a day before the Derby from the alternate list.

I continue to cover horse racing for leading media outlets like Forbes, where I provide 2024 Kentucky Derby championship series races like the Florida Derby, which Fierceness won by 13 lengths. Check out more on Fierceness and the leading win contenders for the 2024 Kentucky Derby in my Triple Crown coverage in Forbes. 

Kentucky Derby Picks

There are seven big stakes races Friday at Churchill Downs including the $1.5 million Kentucky Oaks (Race 11) and $1 million La Troienne (Race 5). On Saturday, nine more big stakes race are headlined by the record $5 million purse for the 150th Kentucky Derby (Race 13). The $1 million Derby City Distaff (race 6), $1 million Churchill Downs Stakes (Race 10) and $1 million Turf Classic (Race 11) add to the biggest day or racing that produced record wagering last year. 

Plenty or races and ways to bet, and some of my colleagues and connections in racing pass along their insight, picks and analysis. Check back for potentially more race picks on additional races later in the week. 

Churchill Downs Kentucky Derby picksI’m including the Japanese horse again in this year’s Derby with Forever Young (10/1) as a win contender behind the prohibitive favorite and best horse in the field, Fierceness (5/2). I also key in on a longshot to win and include in the exacta, trifecta and superfecta with Catching Freedom (8/1), who won the Louisiana Derby. But it’s Louisiana Derby runner-up Honor Marie (20/1) who offers more value and finished just 1-length behind Catching Freedom. Honor Marie can cash-in for a big exotic payout like 2017 when we had Always Dreaming (9/2) winning the Derby with a pair of huge longshots finishing second and third. Recall too when Country House won the 2019 Kentucky Derby at huge odds of 65/1 when Maximum Security was disqualified. Country House had finished 4th in the Louisiana Derby that year. 

I receive additional insightful horse racing analysis from a number of contacts, including from a top handicapper and horseman in California later in the week. I also receive Horse Racing Nation (HRN) and it’s Super Screener big stakes race analysis and provide other handicappers some coverage with their race and sports picks. The HRN Super Screener is a detailed racing report with insight into the horses with time-tested, robust research methodology. These guidelines are based on a powerful set of "benchmarks of performance," while evaluating "how" a horse has been running and improving leading up to the Kentucky Derby. 

The Super Screener lists this year's top 'A' horses and Kentucky Derby win contenders as:

- #4 Catching Freedom (8/1) - Top Value, Closer
- #17 Fierceness (5/2) - Horse to Beat, Pacesetter
- #2 Sierra Leone (3/1) - Top Board Hitter, Closer 

Those rated B or better to also include in exotic bets and potential winners include:

- #7 Honor Marie (20/1) - Top Longshot, Closer
- #18 Stronghold (20/1) - Top Longshot, Presser/Off Pace
- #8 Just a Touch (10/1) - Presser
- #19 Resliience (20/1) - Top Longshot, Off Pace
- #11 Forever Young (10/1), Off Pace 

Watch and wager as interested, and follow more of my Kentucky Derby coverage including championship series prep races to learn more about many of the Run for the Roses runners and their ability to move forward in their first test at a classic distance of 1 1/4 miles for the 2024 Kentucky Derby. 

Time to cash in on the America's biggest horse race and the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby, even if Fierceness proves best as the most talented horse in this sub-par Derby field. 

You can bet on it. 

FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and recognized as one of the sports industry's insightful analysts. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Follow FairwayJay here at and on X @FairwayJay for more betting updates and insights. 

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